Since the 1890’s the building that currently houses the Soulard Preservation Hall has served as a meeting hall, a union hall, and theater. The Ethical Society incorporated a Self Culture Association in 1893 and took out a building permit for the original building. The Sisters of the Saint Lucas Slovak Evangelical Church purchased the building in 1908 and later sold it to the United Hungarian Societies. The Hungarian Societies added the auditorium in 1924 and used it as a community center. The building was then used for many years as a union hall and was more recently owned by a non-profit youth program.
The renovation of Soulard Preservation Hall reconnects this important building to its’ historic surroundings in the Soulard neighborhood. Our challenge in renovating Soulard Preservation Hall is to provide the community with a fabulous and affordable place to celebrate, exchange ideas and enjoy parties and music. Our commitment is to provide the community with a gathering place dedicated to entertainment, hospitality and service.
The Soulard Neighborhood:
Soulard is a historic French neighborhood in St. Louis Missouri and is named after Antoine Soulard, who first began to develop the land. Soulard was a surveyor for the Spanish government and a refugee from the French Revolution in the 1790’s.
Around 1840, the growing city of St. Louis needed to expand and reached south into the Frenchtown area, a mixture of common fields and French owned farms. With expansion, growing landowners hired surveyors to stake out streets, alleys and sellable lots continuing the traditional urban grid. One landowner Julia Soulard donated land for and established a public market, which is still known today as The Soulard Farmers Market.
From the 1830s to the 1920s, European immigrants poured into the St. Louis area including into Soulard. They constructed Soulard’s buildings on European-styled narrow lots using Americanized architectural style of Federal, Italianate and Second Empire, all wrought in ubiquitous red brick. The constantly shifting diverse population shared the same streets, stores, schools and churches. Following WWII and suburban flight the area population dropped, but the rich architecture remained.
Social activists and urban pioneers began Soulard’s renaissance by organizing its designation as a Federal and Local Historic District. Rehabbers began saving historic buildings by renovating and rebuilding. By the 1980s the neighborhood stirred back to life.
Today the Soulard neighborhood is a picturesque, mixed use neighborhood filled with restaurants, bars, residences churches, schools and various businesses and is one of the oldest communities in the city. The neighborhood of Soulard hosts many events throughout the year, including, The St. Louis Mardi Gras festival, the second largest in the country. Other events in Soulard are The Barkus Pet Parade, Oktoberfest, and Bastille Day.